SpaceX Starlink $28 Million Air Force Contract Has Delivered 610 Mbps to Military Plane

SpaceX Starlink communication satellite features are being tested by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory under the Global Lightning program. SpaceX received a $28 million contract to test over the next three years to test Starlink broadband services with the military. SpaceX has demonstrated data throughput of 610 megabits per second in flight to the cockpit of a U.S. military C-12 twin-engine turboprop aircraft.

the USAF has plans to install Starlink terminals and test connectivity with an AC-130 gunship and a KC-135 tanker aircraft.

28 thoughts on “SpaceX Starlink $28 Million Air Force Contract Has Delivered 610 Mbps to Military Plane”

  1. Carrington events do not produce electromagnetic pulses or currents – planetary atmosphere and magnetic field do that. What such flares produce is easy to understand as following: solar flare particle flux with galactic particle energy spectrum (that is in GeV range). The latter is what will destroy satellites, and it is impossible to shield from. Satellites can survive only in the radiation environment of high-flux low-energy particles from the Sun, and low-flux high-energy galactic particles, but not high-flux and high-energy simultaneously.

  2. EMP does not work like that. The most one can hope for is system-generated EMP, which would be a gamble without any prior tests, and that works only in close proximity from detonation point (tens of kilometers for a high yield weapon). One would need essentially equal number of weapons, which is nonsensical – kinetic weapon of any kind would achieve the same cheaper and faster. The best kinetic weapon is a particle beam – cheapest and fastest projectile – which means a slow, meticulous and immediately noticed anti-satellite campaign, which would end prematurely due to ensuing destruction of the weapon itself.

  3. A satellite service providers’ top legal obligation is to the country in which they are domiciled. In the case of Starlink, the operator SpaceX is required to follow the laws and regulations of the United States because SpaceX is an American company. Starlink’s operations are licensed and regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.

    If the Chinese wants Starlink service, they need to talk to the FCC to allow SpaceX to provide service to them, and the FCC regulates how and what kind of Starlink service are allowed. Just threatening Elon isn’t going to do them any good.

  4. Carrington events produce huge, damaging, electromagnetic pulses that generate electrical currents in conductors such as the ionosphere or man made wires.

    BUT, the conductors have to be on the scale of the wavelength of the electromagnetic pulse. In this case many km long. The longest conducting path in a satellite would be a couple of metres at most, so I suspect they would be invisible to the long wavelengths and would be just fine.

    The reports from the Carrington event was of telegraph lines getting charged up, not people getting burned from their gold necklace chains.

    Now maybe a solar flare CAN generate higher frequency waves, I don’t know. But that would a different sort of event.

    This applies to any form of EMP. An EMP designed to take out electronics has to be set up in a different way from one that takes out power lines.

  5. The absolute LAST thing the Chinese military wants is for all their communication to be run through American controlled satellites.

    (Well, not the absolute last thing. That would be Japanese satellites…)

  6. And as a result SpaceX gets full USgovt backing for the plan for 360 000 satellites or whatever the number is up to now.

    Yes, I can see that.

  7. What if China demands the same service for their military? And that if Elon don’t comply, there will be “consequences” to his other business interest in China?

  8. You could deliberately trigger Kessler syndrome: Dump enough garbage into LEO to cause a cascade of destruction that renders it unusable for a while.

    Being LEO, the effect would be relatively short term, but would probably last long enough to be useful for military purposes.

  9. It won’t matter. NASA can pump $$$ in to SLS and it will have no impact on space exploration/colonization because SpaceX can self fund. Once SpaceX has a billion dollars per year of its own profit from Starlink then they don’t need NASA. SpaceX’s way or the highway.

  10. Fingers crossed. The massive waste on SLS (now pegged at $5bill with Orion + Dev costs per launch) is just stu-fuckerous.

  11. Yup the future is looking very cool.

    I really like how Musk looked around and went with existing tech tweeked it scaled it up and bam we are heading into a 50’s comic book era looking space future. All the traditional big boys got fat lazy and greedy on the research grants waiting to make the leap to the fussion driven levitation ships.

  12. Probably cheaper and better to just have more satellites in orbit. In peace time you get better bandwidth.

    Maybe worthwhile to put a manned space station in the same polar orbit so that they can push out new satellites as needed. It isn’t necessary for it to be crewed but it is cool.

  13. And could be countered if built to military nuclear shielding specs. But of course the better value may just be having replacement stacks and launchers ready to reseed the gaps in short order. Seems to be the current US mil startegy for space assests is attrition replacement, i.e. the rapid launch programs.

  14. Yeah if Musk thought that there was money to be made disrupting the LEO launch market then he is in for a happy surprise when he sees how much money can be made by disrupting the arms market.

    Mars colonies are gonna be lit.

  15. Brilliant move.

    Now just gotta make the case to the airforce or space force for the ability of a super heavy to be a viable weapons platform. Costing less than a B-2 or B21, heavier payload, short launch to strike times, and reasonable cost per pound ordinance comparitive other first day weapons systems. Much harder to deter than a B-21 and capable of also standing in orbit as on station BMD or strike platform. 50 or a 100 could bring some real first day pain or sit in orbit for targets of opportunity to pop up and or leverage EKV or even a large laser system for BMD. The ultamate high ground, energy needed to shoot down is always going to be less than shooting up. Deployable under current treaties because it would not be pernament and not nuclear armed.

  16. Only way to “make a dent” in the network would be with high altitude EMPs. Take out 2-3 dozen at a time. Of course that has other ramifications.

  17. And here comes the cashflow, as all those drones and situation rooms need bandwidth and short ping video. Also it would be rather difficult to make a dent in a constellation of thousands with any missle type anti-satellite weapon. Even with a beam type weapon it would be hard, long and far too dangerous. The brass will love it, consequently SpaceX will have funding for completing BFR without funding setbacks. Good.

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